Mobile Technology in Latin America

After nearly a decade of increases, GDP growth in Latin America slowed from 4.4 percent in 2011 to 3.2 percent in 2012 and 4.0 percent in 2013. Despite slowing growth, Latin American countries are still innovating and embracing new ICT. We are always looking for start ups and innovators to bring technology to Latin America.

‘Colombia will be 1st country in Latin America completely connected to internet:’ Santos by Daniel Freeman on Colombia Reports
Recently, Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos announced that Colombia will be the first country in Latin America to be completely connected to the internet. This initiative came after a study placed Colombia in 6th place for internet connectivity in Latin America. In an effort to provide national access and help citizens become familiar with technology, the country will launch a program called “Live Digital, that installs kiosks in communities with over 100 residents. These kiosks will allow the citizens, specifically children, to access to the internet and receive training on how to use a computer. The goal is to launch 5,300 kiosks by 2014, with 400 installed to date. 

Latin America May be Advancing, but Innovation is Still Elusive by James Bargent on NearShore Americas
Despite the growing economy, Latin America lacks the innovation growth commonly attributed to a growing GDP. The “boom in commodity prices” and reliance on foreign markets have been the main drivers of economic growth. Most Latin American countries are still dealing with inequality levels and volatile economies. As a result, there has been a limited focus on entrepreneurship, which is a key driver in accelerating sustainable economic growth. To support entrepreneurship from the ground up, a number of incubators have appeared throughout Latin America. For example, Telefonica has created Wayra, an ICT accelerator program focused on providing support and funding to to startups and entrepreneurs with a strong focus on Latin America.

GSMA Report Reveals Full Scope of Mobile’s Impact on Latin America’s Economies on GSMA
Latin America is one of the most diverse regions in the world in regards social and economic development but “is unified by the growing contribution of mobile” development. Mobile network operators have reduced service prices leading to an increase in mobile users, especially in low income sectors. Although the mobile sector has been growing in Latin America, it cannot continue to thrive in the current environment. The sector faces obstacles such as lack of transparency, non-existent industry development plans, and ambiguous foreign ownership rules. In order to keep the mobile sector growing, GSMA study calls for 1) more effective spectrum management, 2) consistent license renewals, 3) more support regulation, and 4) coordinated quality of service. If regulators and government institutions coordinated, they could unleash the full potential of mobile growth. Additionally, they can encourage industry investment, competition, and increase affordability of mobile services.

Young Latin Americans embrace the internet – and start shopping by Gavin O’Toole on The Guardian
Young Latin Americans are taking advantage of the increasingly availability of internet and have started shopping online. E-commerce is highly competitive and varies greatly between regions due to different levels of internet and mobile penetration and infrastructure. Mexico and Colombia have made the list of fastest-growing markets for online retail, increasing their sales by 43.2% and 41.9% respectively from 2012 to 2013. Social media is another key factor in Latin America’s use of internet with an expected audience of 324.4 million in 2017. This market represents significant and growing buying power from a segment that had been previously underserved, opening up a big opportunity for businesses.